Waris Shah’s Heer Ranjha is one of the definitive works of the Sufiana tradition, often described as the Punjabi Romeo and Juliet. An epic love poem set in 18th-century undivided Punjab, its profound yet enchanting verses are a treasure trove of Punjabi phrases, idioms and sayings.

At the centre of the Heer is a message of romantic love as an expression of the mystical love of the human soul towards God, the quintessential subject of Sufism. Transcending the religious and political gulf that has split the region over the last century, is it this universal theme of profound love that has continued to inspire and enchant audiences from across the cultural divide?

Our panel, made up of Punjabi poet and Heer expert, Mahmood Awan, Sikh faith advisor, Pritpal Singh, and playwright and poet, Avaes Muhammed, will bring both expertise and personal reflections to a poignant discussion of the origins of this iconic poem. Where did this story come from? What is it really about? And why is it that Waris Shah’s Heer stands above all others as the most popular and best-loved poem of the Sufi tradition?

About The Speakers

Mahmood Awan

Mahmood Awan is a Punjabi Poet, Essayist, and Journalist. He is an award winning author of three books of Punjabi poetry. He writes the literary column for The News International and Dawn; leading English dailies of Pakistan. His Punjabi poetry is published on both sides of the Punjabi border.

Avaes Mohammad

Writer and performer Avaes Mohammad regularly engages with themes of science, the socio-political and spirituality. With an upbringing that reverberated with words from the Sufi Saints of South Asia as much as the Dub Poets of Jamaica, his influences have left a permanent hue from which he experiences the sacred and profane alike.


Pritpal Singh

Pritpal Singh is the Sikh Faith Advisor to the University of Bradford. Having been raised within the Sikh scholarly ‘nirmala’ tradition and having read Philosophy at the London School of Economics, Pritpal carries out priestly duties across Sikh Temples – Gurdwaras – in Bradford and Leeds, following in the footsteps of the last three generations of his family.